Salvation and God’s will in Thomas Aquinas: Does God appoint his own disappointment?

Kenneth Copeland on stage:    Aahhl say Aaaaaahhhhl.
All in the world:    Aaaaaaaahhhl.

The Roman Catholic Church considers Thomas Aquinas as its supreme theologian. Here is Pope Leo XIII: “This point is vital, that Bishops expend every effort to see that young men destined to be the hope of the Church should be imbued with the holy and heavenly doctrine of the Angelic Doctor. In those places where young men have devoted themselves to the patronage and doctrine of St. Thomas, true wisdom will flourish, drawn as it is from solid principles and explained by reason in an orderly fashion … Theology proceeding correctly and well according to the plan and method of Aquinas is in accordance with our command. Every day We become more clearly aware how powerfully Sacred Doctrine taught by its master and patron, Thomas, affords the greatest possible utility for both clergy and laity.”

The RCC is Arminian. When Calvinism is contrasted with Arminianism, what first comes to mind is God’s role and man’s role in coming to faith. The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith, while the Arminian says that man cooperates with God in that man turns his heart to God, that is, exercises his will to come to faith. In Calvinism, God first regenerates the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, while in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation. Faith, for the Arminian is something the believer does, not something God gives, as Calvinism understands it.Arminians believe that God wills everybody to be saved. Their key verse is “God will have all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). The “Pulpit Commentary” says: The Divine love is the sublime source of the whole proceeding, and it has been lavished on “the world.” This world cannot be the limited “world” of the Augustinian, Calvinian interpreters – the world of the elect; it is that “whole world” of which St. John speaks in 1 John 2:2. “God will have all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). (see The gift: The reward of suffering).

Owing, alas, to a person’s refusal to open the door of his heart to Christ, God fails in his purposes. But this is fine for God because, to preserve man’s free will to choose Christ – man’s dignity – God appoints his own disappointment.
Here is Thomas Aquinas as described by David Hogg:

“Aquinas identifies three important considerations.61 First, what God wills, he cannot fail to accomplish. As with so many other medieval theologians, Aquinas’s first move is to defend God’s character. God is not weak; he does not fail. Second, no one is saved apart from God’s will. Putting this together with the first point, Aquinas’s argument is that all who are saved are saved because God wills that they all be saved. This leads into his third consideration, that the “all” in this passage is referring to all kinds or types of people. God wills that all kinds of people, people from every category of humanity, be saved. This line of thinking leads Aquinas to affirm that God’s will is not generic or indiscriminate, but takes qualifications and circumstances into account. This means that when God wills that all be saved, his willing accords with his foreknowledge and predestination as much as it accords with his knowledge that all have sinned and as such are children of wrath. An unqualified divine will that leads to an unqualified “all” in 1 Timothy 2:4 does not take sufficient account of God’s nature, let alone the rest of revelation.”

(David Hogg, “Sufficient for some, efficient for all: Definite atonement in the medieval church” in David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson. “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.” Crossway, 2013).

In Aquinas, on the one hand, God never fails, and on the other, his desire is to save only those who fulfil the qualifications and circumstances to be saved, which “means that when God wills that all be saved, his willing accords with his foreknowledge and predestination as much as it accords with his knowledge that all have sinned and as such are children of wrath.” The relationship between foreknowledge and predestination in Aquinas is not clear. If he means that God knows from eternity who will not be saved, and thus he would not include these under “all,”  then both the Arminian and Calvinist should be aware of this “assault” on human understanding. 

 The Arminian understanding of 2 Peter 3:9 is that God desires all without exception to be saved but if some don’t want to be saved, God will respect their freedom to reject Him. Thus there is no conflict between God desiring all to be saved and God predestination of those who are saved. Pre in “predestination” has, for the Armininian, the same meaning as fore in “foreknowledge.” if this is so, God (pre)destines people to salvation based on his (fore)knowledge. I remain confused by what Aquinas means “when God wills that all be saved, his willing accords with his foreknowledge and predestination… (Hogg above).
Consider how “predestination” is used in the Bible:

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27–28). According to the Arminian William Lane Craig, the crucifixion as a good example of an evil that God does not ordain, but instead is brought about by the actions of man’s free will. God basically picks up the pieces and makes something good come out of the crucifixion.

So, “predestine” for the Arminian means God seeing what’s going to happen and acting accordingly. But that’s not “pre-destination but post-destination. See The plan of salvation: Is it worth the risk, my Son? What, risk! Ask Jacques Derrida, CS Lewis and Thomas Oord).

And: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were appointed/ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). To the Arminian this means that if you receive Christ, by letting him into your chamber, he will appoint you to eternal live. You’re elected because you have been selected because of your “qualifications” (Aquinas?). (See the technicolour traversty of this verse by David J. Stewart).

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